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THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY             241

2. JOHN AMOS COMENIUS AND GERMAN EDUCATION

The great educational activity stimulated by the Reformation
in Germany, which had led first to a widespread establishment
of universities and schools in the Protestant States, and then to
a powerful counter-movement on similar lines on the part of the
Jesuits, was almost at an end by the beginning of the Seven-
teenth Century. The Treaty of Augsburg in 1555 had brought
a temporary peace by putting the settlement of religious questions
into the hands of the rulers of the States, and had permitted the
continuance of educational improvements already under way.
But the evil day was only deferred. Many disputed questions
had been left unsettled, and the strife of sects within the several
States and the enmity between States of different persuasions
only grew worse as time went on, till the terrible climax was
reached in the Thirty Years War (1618-1648). In such troubled
times the energies of the people were too fully occupied to allow
much attention to be given to education, and little progress of
any kind was possible until the Seventeenth Century had run its
course and the States had begun to recover from the devastations
of fratricidal war.

Even under these conditions the zeal for education which had
animated the Protestant leaders and their opponents was not
entirely quenched. But for the most part the reformers of the
Seventeenth Century moved on a lower level of thought than
their predecessors. They were generally content to leave funda-
mental problems about education and life untouched, and to
confine themselves to the more superficial details of educational
method. " Recently," says Comenius, in a passage that uncon-
sciously reveals the spirit of the times, " it has pleased God to
let the morning glow of a newly-rising age appear, in which He
has inspired some good men in Germany, who, weary of the
confused method of instruction employed in the schools, have
begun to think out an easier and shorter way of teaching the
languages and the arts."* Good methods of teaching are cer-
tainly of great importance, and the evolution of method is an
essential part of educational progress to which the Teutonic
genius has made many notable contributions. But educators who
make this their main concern betray a pettiness of mind that
* Keatinge, The Great Didactic, second edition, p. 7.